Recently, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled that California’s tough teacher-tenure laws are unconstitutional.
His ruling is based on a 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that tenure laws infringed on a student’s right to an equal education. Educators are now concerned that their lucrative “impregnable” contracts may be jeopardized.
Karen Moses, Montana Education Association employee and former Billings school board trustee, said, “It gives more fuel to the fire to those who’d like to dismantle (tenure),” which “could be a distraction to real problems.”
Ms. Moses, open your eyes and realize the real problems in education are tenure, the MEA union and Common Core. It is evident that our educational system has greatly deteriorated over the years. Here are the results from a major study conducted in 2010 of 470,000 15-year-olds in
65 countries, taken by the Program for International Student Assessment. The United States ranked No. 14 in reading, No. 25 in math and No. 17 in science.
Adding to Moses’ statement, Scott McCulloch, president of the Billings Education Association, said tenure protects teachers from “arbitrary” firing. Mr. McCulloch, in the real world firings happen, and some may be unfair or uncalled for. But we’re talking about education, and trying to achieve a desired goal, which is not being met. We must figure out where and what the problems are, and then correct them.
If our country is going to again be the envy of the world, it will have to be rebuilt by today’s students. That requires teachers who are capable, and willing, to actually teach. You pointed out that teachers go through a three-year probationary period before they are awarded tenure, during which time they are evaluated twice a year.
So what you are saying is that teachers are passing their twice a year evaluation and granted tenure, yet statistics reveal we continue to have an inadequate educational system. So Mr. McCulloch, where does the failure lie? Is it with the school administrators; with the evaluation process; with the inability on the part of the teachers; with an inadequate college education prior to becoming teachers; with the lack of discipline, or with laws restricting the ability to discipline? Where, and with whom, does the failure to properly educate lie? Maybe it’s the Legislature not enacting stringent legislation requiring certain results, or giving the board of education the authority to enact rules as they see fit.
Many wonder if our students can learn and absorb more than they are presently given. The answer – yes they can!
The following examples show the difference between public education and private school education, where the teachers don’t have tenure or a union. The intent here is to show that students can, and will, learn more when placed in a proper educational environment. These examples are my personal experience.
I grew up in Buffalo New York, and my younger brother and I had the benefit of attending a private day school even though our father had died when I was 14. In New York state all public school students had to take, and pass, a regents exam in each course before moving up to next year’s level. (Going from Spanish I into Spanish II.) We on the other hand took a regents Spanish II final to move into the second semester, accomplishing in half a year when public school students were taking two years.
Next, as a freshman at Purdue, I took biology and it covered the same material I had in high school. So students can do the work if they are required to, and if they have good teachers. I had mentioned the above facts in a previous Missoulian column, and a lady said surely the students had to meet a certain IQ requirement to be admitted. That lady has a low opinion of Montana students.
We were just ordinary kids and accepted what was expected of us. And those of us who participated in sports had to have at least a “C” in each course every week, or we did not play that week. Yes, the teachers reported weekly grades for each student athlete.
Montana students can, and will, achieve more if we create the proper environment. We are handing them a tremendous mess, so let’s at least provide a better education, unencumbered by tenure and an obstructionist union.
Fred Carl of Missoula is a former Montana state senator.